The topic of photogrammetry has come up frequently during research for a client recently and, given its interesting nature and relative obscurity, it seemed the ideal topic for a Polestar insight.
Photogrammetry is a visual data analysis technique that composites a large quantity of 2D images into a single, highly detailed 3D virtual object. For example, land surveyors might repeatedly fly a drone over a piece of land – taking photos of it from all possible angles – in order to produce a navigable, photo-realistic rendition of the site. Used in this way, photogrammetry allows for incredibly accurate measurements and renders that are both more time and cost effective than most traditional methods such as helicopter surveying or laser measurements.
Although variations of the technology have been around since the 19th century, it is only really with the advent of advanced computing and microprocessors that we have been able to fully reap its benefits. The entertainment industry is a key investor, often deploying the tech to produce photo-realistic renderings of buildings and characters for use in CGI sequences in films and video games.
But photogrammetry’s use doesn’t stop there. Understandably, the technology has been widely adopted by the construction and engineering industries, largely due to its high accuracy, reliability, and speed. New building projects can simply be projected onto a photo-realistic rendering of the surrounding area that can then be explored in virtual reality, giving investors and buyers a never-before-seen level of engagement from the project’s get go.
Photogrammetry represents an interesting take on the development of new technology; producing new things isn’t always the most efficient route to solving a problem. While there have been huge leaps in laser-based measuring, computer-generated rendering and even radar scanning in the last few decades, it turns out that the humble camera is can be the most efficient way to generate a 3D rendering of an object.
It seems that smart progress isn’t always achieved by pouring resources into developing shiny new tech, but rather by looking at what is available and augmenting it to suit your needs.
Given the recent proliferation of ecological awareness in the media, this can also tie into the wider message of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ that has been around for many years now. We’re quite good at recycling; most people know what it is and practise some form of it. In this case, reduce/reuse could mean reduce the amount of unnecessary new technologies and reuse those already available in a new way.
How could a technology such as photogrammetry improve your business?
Other industries are now turning to photogrammetry to make cheap, 3D surveys of large sites or facilities. Often, this involves flying a small camera-equipped drone around the structure in question so that photographs can be taken from many angles